April 17, 1896 [Chapeaux à transformations]

A simple vaudeville performance, as a man dons and doffs a series of hat-and-nose-or-whiskers disguises in rapid succession. I am finding more and more that these films are uninteresting per se; what makes them memorable is their power to draw me inside the mechanics of cinema, individual images streaming along, creating the illusion of motion. As the performer went through his routine, he reenacted that mechanism—not to produce a single smooth action, but a series of images—of himself, to be sure, but different, shifting suddenly from one self to another. Somehow this also puts me in mind of the demolished wall un-demolished, images changing with no logic, but only as unexpected as a magician's trick, in which, of course, one expects the unexpected.


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